Federal Conservative candidate Marc Dalton said the government’s scandal over SNC-Lavalin affair is unprecedented, as members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “inner circle” resign.
Dalton described the scandal as “political convulsions the like of which we haven’t seen in a generation.”
Former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and ex-Treasury Board president Jane Philpott have both resigned over the government’s handling of the corruption case against Montreal engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.
Wilson-Raybould testified she was pressured by the PMO to not pursue criminal charges against the engineering giant. A conviction could mean a 10-year ban from bidding on government contracts. She made the comments before the Commons’ justice committee.
“In your role as attorney general, you are not to be influenced by political motivations,” said Dalton.
He echoed Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s call for Trudeau to step down, at least until the conduct of the PMO’s office can be examined, and for the RCMP to investigate whether any laws have been broken.
He said Liberal MPs should search their conscience.
“It’s time for every Liberal Cabinet minister to ask the same question – whether they got into politics to prop up a prime minister who would break the law to win an election.”
Dalton will run against Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Dan Ruimy (Liberal) in this October’s federal election.
Ruimy said the Conservatives are premature in concluding the PMO is guilty of anything. Even Wilson-Raybould testified that the pressure was inappropriate, but not illegal, he added.
“The ethics commissioner is looking into it, number one, and, number two, the justice committee is doing its job,” said Ruimy, adding there is more testimony to be heard.
He explained the company, which has 9,000 employees, is accused of corruption – allegedly paying $48 million to Libyan government officials from 2001-2011 in exchange for government contracts. The company seeks a deferred prosecution agreement, which would allow it to pay a financial penalty, but avoid criminal charges.
Ruimy said the deferred prosecution agreement legislation was created specifically for these situations, and other countries have similar agreements. He noted SNC-Lavalin is a huge employer and leads one of three teams bidding on the $1.377 billion construction of a replacement for the Patullo Bridge.
The issue, he said, is whether Wilson-Raybould faced inappropriate pressure to not pursue criminal prosecution, and he had no comment about that.
Ruimy voiced his support for Trudeau.
“Do I think something wrong or illegal has been done – absolutely not,” said Ruimy. “I know the prime minister to be a respectable, honest individual. No, I don’t think the prime minister should resign.”